Crebillon, Claude Prosper Joliot De

, son of the preceding, was born at Paris February 12, 1707, and died there April 12, 1777, at the age of 70. It is said that his father being one day asked, in a large company, which of his works he thought the best? “I don’t know,” answered he, “which is my best production; but this (pointing to his son, who was present) is certainly my | worst.” “It is,” replied the son, with vivacity, “because no Carthusian had a hand in it:” alluding to the report, that the best passages in his father’s tragedies had been written by a Carthusian friar, who was his friend. His father had gained his fame as a manly and nervous writer; the son was remarkable for the ease, elegance, and caustic malignity of his conversation and writings, and might be surnamed the Petronius of France, as his father had been characterised by that of the Æschylus. The abbe Boudot, who lived on familiar terms with him, said to him one day in reply to some of his jokes: “Hold thy tongue! Thy father was a great man; but as for thee, thou art only a great boy.” “Crebiilon the father,” says M. d’Alembert, “paints in the blackest colours the crimes and wickedness of man. The son draws, with a delicate and just pencil, the refinements, the shades, and even the graces of our vices; that seducing levity which renders the French what is called amiable, but which does not signify worthy of being beloved; that restless activity, which makes them feel ennui even in the midst of pleasure; that perversity of principles, disguised, and as it were softened, by the mask of received forms; in short, our manners, at once frivolous and corrupt, wherein the excess of depravity combines with the excess of ridiculousness.” This parallel is more just than the opinion of L’Advocat, who says that the romances of Crebiilon are extremely interesting, because all the sentiments are drawn from a sensible heart, but it is plain that this “sensible heart” is full of affectation, and that the author describes more than he feels. However this may be, Crebiilon never had any other post than that of censor-royal. He is said to have lived with his father as with a friend and a brother; and his marriage with an English woman, whom Crebiilon the father did not approve, only produced a transient misunderstanding. The principal works of the son are: 1. Letters from the marchioness to the count of ***, 1732, 2 vols. 12rno. 2. Tanzai and Neadarne“, 1734, 2 vols. 12mo. This romance, abounding in satirical allusions and often unintelligible, and which caused the author to be put into the bastille, was more applauded than it deserved. 3.” Les egarements du coeur & de Tesprit,“1736, three parts, 12mo. 4.” The Sopha,“a moral tale, 1745, 1749, 2 vols. 12mo, grossly immoral, as most of his works are. For this he Was banished from Paris for some time. 5.” Lettres | Atheniennes,“177I,4vols. 12mo. 6.” Ah! que?i conte“1764, 8 parts, 12mo. 7.” Les Heureux Orphelins,“1754, 2 vols. 12mo. 8.” La Nuit & le Moment,“1755, 12mo. 9.” Le hasard du coin du feu,“1763, 12mo. 10.” Lettres de la duchesse de ***,' &c. 1768, 2 vols. 12mo. 11. “Lettres de la marquise de Pompadour,” 12mo, an epistolary romance, written in an easy and bold style; but relates few particulars of the lady whose name it bears. The whole of his works have been collected in 7 vols. 12mo, 1779. 1


Dict. Hist. He corresponded at one time with Lord Chesterfield, and some of his letters may be sern in his lorHship’s Miscellaneous Works, vol. II. They afford a sorry proof of Crebillon’s virtue or delicacy, but he probably knew to whom he was writing.